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Photographer's Note

Historian Edward Rowe Snow wrote, "Portland Head and its light seem to symbolize the state of Maine -- rocky coast, breaking waves, sparkling water and clear, pure salt air."

The hundreds of thousands of people who visit Portland Head each year would agree; this is one of the most strikingly beautiful lighthouse locations in New England.

Portland, which was known as Falmouth until 1786, was America's sixth busiest port by the 1790s. Even so, Maine had no lighthouses when 74 merchants petitioned the Massachusetts government (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time) in 1784 for a light to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor. The deaths of two people in a 1787 shipwreck at Bangs (now Cushing) Island near Portland Head finally led to the appropriation of $750 for a lighthouse.

The project was delayed by insufficient funds, and construction didn't progress until 1790 when Congress appropriated an additional $1,500, after the nation's lighthouses had been ceded to the federal government.

The stone lighthouse was built by local masons Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols. The original plan was for a 58-foot tower, but when it was realized that the light would be blocked from the south it was decided to make the tower 72 feet in height instead. Bryant resigned over the change, and Nichols finished the lighthouse in January 1791. (From New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide (http://lighthouse.cc/portlandhead/history.html)(

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Additional Photos by Don Hills (dghills) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13 W: 19 N: 67] (689)
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